Yangon‘s most notable structure is the gold plated stupa of the Shwedagon Paya, (golden pagoda) one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The stupa, which still dominates the landscape of central Yangon, was said to have been built from the 6th to the 10th centuries.
A village called “Dagon” was built in the area in the 11th century until it was captured by King Alaungpaya in 1755. The founder of the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty, Alaungpaya renamed the village “Yangon”, which means “end of strife”, and built a grand city in its place. The city was destroyed by fire after the First Anglo-Burmese War, and was captured by the British in the second war, renaming it “Rangoon”. It became the capital and major port of British Burma, and the colonial architecture buildings were built during this period as the city was re-designed by British engineers as a grid.
The Buddhist shrine housed in the 100-metre central stupa of the Shwedagon Paya is believed to hold strands of the Buddha’s hair. The Shwedagon Pagoda is adorned with gold and precious stones, and is believed to be worth US$3 billion on its own. The 114-acre complex features four entryways to the place of worship. The way to the western entrance–the grandest–is paved with shops where you can peruse (and purchase) antiques, toys, herbal remedies and souvenirs. The golden structure reminiscent of Yangon’s glamorous past looks enthralling in sunlight, so guests are invited to see it during sunrise or sunset.
For locals the golden pagoda in the most important shrine in Myanmar‘s largest city.
Other places of interest in Yangon include the Kandawgyi Lake, which is not far from Shwedagon Paya. Here in Kandawgyi park you can take a stroll on the boardwalk-though be careful as some boards are rickety around the Kandawgyi lake! Sule Pagoda occupies a traffic circle in the centre of Yangon, an ancient golden temple that can be surprising to see right in the middle of downtown traffic. Also in central Yangon close to the golden pagoda is the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple houses a 66-metre reclining Buddha-definitely a sight to see. The contemporary Yangon skyline and the colonial architecture from British Burma are best admired on a walking tour of central and downtown Yangon.